With DVD players available at ever more affordable prices, the £750 tag on Pioneer's flagship DV-989 is certain to raise eyebrows. But if you're an avid enthusiast with a high-end system there are few players better equipped for premier performance.
The superbly constructed universal design integrates state-of-the-art DVD technology including high-performance components, advanced digital processing, intricate adjustments and class-leading connectivity. Both HDMI digital video and FireWire digital audio connections are featured for superior quality performance -- particularly if you're using the latest digital receivers and screens.
In an age when DVD players are constantly slimming down in size, Pioneer's DV-989 is instantly conspicuous by its overweight construction. Weighing in at an incredible 9kg, the design dwarfs its typically slimline rivals and alludes to the abundance of technical features it carries.
Exceptional build quality, featuring a triple-layered chassis and flawless finishing, gives the player a reassuringly solid feel supported by firm controls and an enviably smooth loading mechanism. And the elegant, uncomplicated styling screams high-end quality.
Unfortunately, the accompanying remote isn't cast from the same mould. Although the design is spacious, with surprisingly few controls, the lightweight build and ugly, plastic jog wheel feel cheap by comparison -- but that's the only design drawback.
The rear panel is ridiculously well connected, with an all-inclusive range of audio and video options. On the sound side, you can connect the player to an external receiver using a choice of standard analogue and digital outputs, including 5.1 analogue preouts for listening to multi-channel movies and music.
The DV-989 also features a pair of the latest digital audio i-Link connections. i-Link, also known as FireWire, allows the direct, uncompressed transfer of any digital audio signals using only a single cable -- provided you have a compatible receiver. Not only does this mean fewer necessary cables but there's also improvements to sound quality, especially with SACDs.
Also included is the video equivalent, HDMI, which transfers pure digital audio and standard and upscaled video signals to a compatible receiver or screen providing the best picture performance currently available. At this level, it's likely that HDMI will be your video connection of choice, but there's also a supporting cast of analogue connections. These include dual composite, S-Video and Scart terminals -- one that's RGB enabled and another that can be used to link a recording device. And the impressive connectivity is completed by a set of component outputs with support for PAL and NTSC pure progressive scan.
It's not only the DV-989's comprehensive connectivity that affords it a state-of-the-art specification. The universal design is compatible with virtually every disc available, including recordable discs, MP3-encoded discs and both SACD and DVD-A multi-channel music formats. And, internally, only the finest components have been used in the construction.
This includes high-performance 108MHz/14-bit video and 192KHz/24-bit audio DA converters with integrated decoding for Dolby Digital, DTS and SACD soundtracks. There's also Pioneer's own Two-Dimensional Resolution Expander video scaler, which can upscale digital video signals via HDMI using 640x480, 720x576i, 720x576p, 1280x720p and 1920x1080i resolutions.